Iran and the United States have wrapped up the first round of the sensitive talks in the Swiss city of Lausanne in an attempt to narrow gaps on the outstanding issues pertaining to Tehran’s nuclear program.
Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and US Secretary of State John Kerry held discussions for five hours in Lausanne on Monday.
The meeting was also attended by head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), Ali Akbar Salehi, Zarif’s deputies, Abbas Araqchi and Majid Takht-e Ravanchi, special assistant to Iran's president, Hossein Fereidoun, US Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz and US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman.
The new round of talks opened in the Swiss city on Sunday as Salehi and Moniz held high-level technical talks. Experts from Iran and the US as well as the AEOI spokesman, Behrouz Kamalvandi, were also present in the meeting.
Zarif is scheduled to leave for Brussels, Belgium, later on Monday, to discuss Iran’s nuclear issue with his German, French and UK counterparts, respectively, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Laurent Fabius and Philip Hammond.
EU foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, will host the Brussels talks “as part of the ongoing nuclear negotiations with Iran,” her office said in a statement last week.
UK: Still long way ahead
Hammond said on Monday that the nuclear talks between Iran and the P5+1 countries have made progress toward a deal but the two sides still have some way to go.
"We are closer than we were but we've still got a long way to go," Hammond told reporters as he arrived in Brussels to sit down with his EU peers and Zarif.
"There are areas where we've made progress, [and] areas where we have yet to make any progress," he added.
EU: Talks at critical stage
Meanwhile, EU foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, said on Monday that the negotiations between Iran and the six countries were entering a critical stage, urging all sides to find "common ground" to solve the outstanding issues.
"We are entering a crucial time, a crucial two weeks where negotiations will have to find the common ground for a good deal" Mogherini said ahead of her talks with the foreign ministers of Iran, Germany, Britain and France.
Germany: Chance to settle dispute
The German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier also said on the same day that if the negotiating sides have the opportunity to settle the standoff over Iran’s nuclear program, they should “grab the chance.”
Iran and the P5+1 countries – the United States, Britain, France, China, and Russia plus Germany – are seeking to seal a comprehensive nuclear deal by July 1. The two sides have already missed two self-imposed deadlines for inking a final agreement since they signed an interim one in the Swiss city of Geneva in November 2013.
On March 4, Zarif and Kerry wrapped up intense nuclear negotiations in the Swiss city of Montreux. Salehi and Moniz also attended the talks.
Representatives of Iran and the United States had also held three rounds of intense negotiations in the Swiss city of Geneva on February 22-23.